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Nurses leaders urge Rishi Sunak to step in to avert NHS strike

Nurses leaders urge Rishi Sunak to step in to avert NHS strike

Nurses leaders have issued a direct appeal to Rishi Sunak to intervene in their pay dispute as the NHS faces its biggest day of industrial action in its history.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) general secretary Pat Cullen said that a “meaningful” pay offer from the Government could still avert strike action.

She drew a comparison with his swift action sacking Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi after he was found to breached the ministerial code in relation to his tax affairs.

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen
Royal College of Nursing general secretary Pat Cullen has urged Rishi Sunak to intervene in their pay dispute (Danny Lawson/PA)

“As shown by last weekend’s fast-paced changes in Cabinet, big decisions can be made by you at any point in the week in the interests of good government,” she wrote.

“I am urging you to use this weekend to reset your government in the eyes of the public and demonstrate it is on the side of the hardworking, decent taxpayer.

“There could be no simpler way to demonstrate this commitment than bringing the nurse strike to a swift close.”

Her appeal comes as tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance staff in England are set to walk out on Monday in what is expected to be the biggest strike in NHS history.

The nurses are due to strike again on Tuesday while ambulance crews and call handlers will return to the picket lines on Friday.

In contrast, the RCN and other unions have called off similar action in Wales after receiving a new pay offer from the Welsh government.

With negotiations also continuing in Scotland, Ms Cullen warned Mr Sunak that his Government was becoming “increasingly isolated”.

“As a result, the strike action for England next week remains, with tens of thousands of individuals losing wages to ensure you hear their voice.

“It must not be in vain,” she said.

“It will be the biggest day of industrial action in the 75-year history of the NHS.

“Nursing staff find that a sobering realisation of how far they have been pushed to protect patient care and secure some respect for the nursing profession.”